Social Media for Managers

by Theresa Truscott

What to do in an emergency

As in every other branch of human activity, social media will inevitably throw up the occasional emergency. The golden rule is to keep calm...

An inappropriate post

A member of staff has posted some inappropriate material what do I do?

Don’t panic! It really depends on what you define as inappropriate and whether it has actually offended people. Most people would define inappropriate as offensive language, derisory comments or extreme views. In some cases, it may just be bad timing (or judgment) if someone, say, posts office party pictures or boasts about large bonuses in a time when markets are crashing.

If you’ve caught the post before it has been picked up and passed on by anyone, then you can remove it, or, if it is on an employee’s personal site, get them to remove it. If not, you need to assess the situation and limit the damage as much as possible, perhaps by sending out good comments that will take the sting out of the original posting.

If it has caused a negative reaction, then you will need to calm the situation down and apologise. If no-one has reacted, then commenting on it could potentially make the situation worse by drawing attention to it, so it might be better to remove it.

If it has gone viral, in other words it has been passed around the net from person to person, you may need to do some careful PR. People will be watching how you react and deal with the situation, so always be polite.

Depending on the circumstances you may want to handle the member of staff in one of the following ways:

  • Retrain them in appropriate use of social media
  • Offer them coaching or counselling, if necessary
  • Take them through a disciplinary process
  • Dismiss them if they have brought the company into disrepute.

If you have trained your staff in social media etiquette and your organisation’s social media policy, then you can avoid these situations arising.

Dealing with negative online comments and reviews

It can be hard to read negative comments and the fear of receiving these can put people off starting in social media. Just remember that people will be saying these things whether you are online or not. It is better to know what they are saying and to be able to respond to them.

  1. DON’T PANIC! If it is not picked up within the first three minutes it is unlikely to make major headlines. (This applies primarily to Twitter, as other social media comments are often long term.) Even if it does get noticed, the way you handle the situation is more important than the comment itself.
  2. If someone is unhappy with your product or service always make sure you have done everything you can to sort out their problem
  3. Always take the conversation offline, otherwise it could develop into a very public slanging match and neither party comes off well in these circumstances.
  4. Be polite and courteous when dealing with the negative comment and work towards getting an amicable solution.
  5. Make sure the complainant is happy with the outcome and you may find they retract the negative comment or let people know how well you dealt with their complaint.
  6. If it is relevant, you can post the outcome as a response – for example, perhaps you need to explain how to avoid the problem or what action you’ve taken to prevent it happening to other people.
  7. If someone is determined to make a point or you are unable to fix the problem, you may have to live with it for a while. You can gradually move the comment out of the spotlight by getting lots of positive posts and comments on the site or on Google.

Business profiles in Google Places and many other business listings locations around the web do not permit the business owner to remove negative comments, so it is important that all public listings that allow reviews are monitored and responded to. What is far worse than seeing negative comments on a business listing is seeing negative comments that are not addressed by the business!